Visionary writers are incredibly important to the publishing landscape. And yet, the “visionary” label of this broad set of writers can confuse unfamiliar readers or put off publishers afraid to take risks. This can make the task of connecting to readers and defining their ‘ideal audience’ a challenge, as Michelle Frost’s post ‘The Visionary in the Fiction’ makes clear.
The good news is that no label or genre requires the approval of traditional publishing houses in order to flourish, and this is certainly the case with the many already successful visionary books available in the VFA store. In this post, I’ll take you through four ways to reach visionary readers as an author.
There seems to be a general skepticism of author websites among writers: an assumption that they’re ineffective and that social media has now taken their place in the world of digital book marketing. While social media can play a key role in an indie author’s promotion efforts, it’s absolutely untrue that author websites cannot help boost sales.
This list of successful author websites demonstrates just how uniquely successful such a website can be at forging a connection between a writer and a reader. As evident in these examples, your website should replicate the experience of reading your books, and simulate that mood in some way. Whether that’s design and typography, a personal blog, spiritual photography, or a minimal space providing room for imagination, your site is a reflection of your author brand — so it’s definitely worth creating, maintaining, and updating as you release more books!
To speak in visionary-fiction-specific terms, your website should convey the headspace you want your readers to be in while they read. Fantasy and sci-fi writers in particular, you may benefit from including a professional website header that features the characteristic blues, greens, and generally dark hues of the genre.
Probably the most crucial reason every author needs a website is that it will allow your readers to sign up to your mailing list. As Reedsy co-founder Ricardo Fayet says, “Every sale you make while your mailing list is not in place is basically a lost opportunity.”
If you’re not collecting the contact info of readers who are clearly interested in your work, you’re missing the opportunity to tell those people about future releases. This is particularly important if your work has been published with a self-publishing company, which likely means that a great deal of marketing responsibility falls on your shoulders.
Even if you don’t like to think about the commercial side of things, maintaining a mailing list is another great way to establish a meaningful connection with your readers: you can ask for feedback on your books, create a community, and share your thoughts with a like-minded group of people. Words are all about forming these bonds, and your mailing list is no exception!
Similarly, author events can be a fantastic way to build personal relationships with your readers. If you’ve been published traditionally, your publicist will likely have some contacts in your area like local bookshops or book festivals.
However, since visionary fiction is a somewhat niche ‘genre’ (if you can call such a broad, all-encompassing, full-of-possibilities group of writing a single ‘genre’!), you will likely need to do some networking yourself. Look into existing groups and organizations in your area: as Margaret Duarte points out, groups who share interests in metaphysics, spirituality, or the supernatural may make the perfect target audience for you. So reaching out to such groups (instead of generic book clubs) may be a more effective and efficient use of your time.
It will depend, of course, on the specifics of your work, but groups such as church communities/humanists, school physics departments (if your book is appropriate for younger readers), yoga or martial arts enthusiasts who emphasize the spiritual side of their practice, or good old-fashioned fantasy book clubs might also be incredibly relevant to reach out to. Go ahead and ask if they’d be interested in having you over for a reading and discussion! Visionary fiction has incredible potential in the market — you just need to find your target readers first.
Before this heading puts you off, let me clarify: I mean your title, subtitle (if you have one), and book description.
While the term “visionary fiction” is still not widely known, you shouldn’t keep from using it in your blurb if you feel it encapsulates the framework of your subject. That said, your blurb still needs to clearly signal your subject and themes to potential readers at a first glance, so be sure to also use more recognizable terms and keywords! If you’re working without a marketing team, you can run draft book blurbs past friends and family, asking them to pick the one they think gives the clearest picture of the contents.
The same is true of the balance between your book title and cover: an ambiguous title like The Girl in the Woods will rely on cover art to communicate whether the book is a romance, a fantasy tale, or a memoir. Do your best to ensure that all of these elements cohere without any ambiguity, and you’ll see that the right readers will be picking up your book!
I hope these four tips help, as I have no doubt that visionary fiction deserves greater attention in bookstores and in the digital world. Good luck, and don’t lose hope!
About the author
Kleopatra Olympiou is a writer with Reedsy, a marketplace that connects authors and publishers with the world’s best editors, designers, and marketers. She currently lives in Nicosia, Cyprus, and has twice been awarded in the Grammar School’s Poetry Competition. She is a perfectionist, a passionate list-maker, and ardently bibliophilic.